FIBA to Review Ban on Turbans in Basketball Games

Geneva:  Trying to douse the hurt sentiments of Sikh and Muslim players, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is ready to review its rule which prevents cagers from wearing headgear for religious reasons.

A controversy erupted at the FIBA-sanctioned Asia Cup in China this month after two Indian Sikh players were told to remove their turbans ahead of the game and the world governing body said today that its policy-making board will review the issue at an August 27 meet in Sevilla ahead of the World Cup.

“FIBA’s Central Board, which is ultimately responsible for changes to the Official Basketball Rules, will review these requests and decide how to proceed in the best interest of the sport,” the 214-nation governing body said in a statement.

Indian players, Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh, were told to remove their turbans by Chinese referees before playing Japan on July 12. The players argued that the rule had never been enforced on them before.

India’s sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal had expressed ‘shock’ and ‘outrage’ over the incident and asked the IOC to send guidelines to Olympic sports federations.

Current FIBA rules prevent players wearing “headgear, hair accessories and jewellery,” allowing only a 5-centimeter headband to control hair and sweat.

“This measure was established more than 10 years ago for two main reasons: safety on the basketball court and uniformity of equipment within a team,” FIBA said in a statement.

“As a result, the wearing of a turban or a headscarf, just like any other object or accessory to be worn on a player’s head, is not authorised in official FIBA competitions.”

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and India’s government had this week called for an end to the ban.

“We take seriously American athletes’ right to compete and believe that reasonable steps can be taken to accommodate athletes of all religious beliefs,” said the USOC, which was urged to intervene by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In 2012, football’s governing body FIFA changed its rules to allow female Muslim players to wear head scarves, after a campaign by executive committee member Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan.

~Press Trust of India

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